Learn how to grow Asparagus. Asparagus is a wonderful vegetable to add to your gardens. Not only is fresh garden asparagus taste WAY better than the asparagus from the store, the plant is a perennial, and also very easy going, so you can “plant and forget” and enjoy bountiful asparagus harvests for years to come.
How to Grow Asparagus
Planting asparagus is a wonderfulinvestment for a gardener, though it also requires a lot of patience because you have to wait 2-3 whole years before you can harvest your first full crop.
However, since it is one of very few vegetable perennials, it means your future looks bright –and green- from so much delicious asparagus for years to come.
**In order to grow enough asparagus for a family of four, you need about 50 plants and thus about 250 square feet of land. If possible, the site should be sunny, though they will tolerate some shade (but then will be more susceptible to disease).
**It should be grown in its’ own plot section in the garden because the plants become so tall that they can easily shade plants growing next to them. However, in the first year, the ferns are not very tall yet, so you could plant some crops between the asparagus rows. In the other years, if necessary, you could grow early crops such as radishes and lettuce there as well since they will be harvested before the ferns get too tall.
Growing Asparagus: Propagation:
**Most gardeners grow asparagus from one or two year old roots or crowns, from either a local nursery or online (like this one). Try to plant them as soon as possible after purchasing.
**If you live in a warm climate, plant your asparagus in the fall or winter, if possible. In cooler climates, plant them in the early spring, about four weeks before the last average frost date. It is best to prepare the soil the previous fall so have healthier plants. Click here to learn about more early spring garden crops.
**Try to plant asparagus in rows that are spaced four feet apart because these plants have deep running and far-spreading roots that need plenty of space.
**You can also grow asparagus from seed (like these asparagus seeds), though this will take four years to produce a harvest instead of three. However, they will be, in general, more healthy and produce higher yields of crops. It also costs less. Seeds should be started indoors 3-5 months before planting and plant after all danger of frost has passed.
How to Grow Asparagus: Maintenance:
**Remember that asparagus is a perennial, so choose its’ site carefully because it will be permanent.
**This is a hungry plant, so give the soil plenty of compost/manure before planting your crop.
**Keep a new bed well watered and keep away weeds (which can get their roots tangled in with the asparagus and ruin your crop). Mulching the crop helps keep down weeds and also keeps the soil moist.
**In the first year of planting, a few small asparagus spears will pop up. DO NOT PICK THEM! These spears will grow into the foliage needed to make food for the roots to store that will give you years of large harvests in the future. Do not cut the foliage down in the winter, just let it naturally die down by itself. Only when the color fades completely from the plant should you consider cutting down the old stems to prevent diseases.
**In the second spring, there will be more spears than the year before. You may pick a few of the ones that are as thick as your finger, but leave most of them once again. Just keep watering and waiting patiently and keep the mulch fresh. You should also give it a fresh dose of compost/manure once a year, most likely in the fall or winter season. A spring feeding with liquid fertilizer (such as fish emulsion) will also help out your plants.
**The worst pest/disease problem for asparagus is the asparagus beetle (see picture below). You can control them simply by picking them off as they appear. If beetles continue to be a problem, destroy the dead stalks in the fall.
How to Grow Asparagus: Harvesting:
**In the third spring, there will be many spears of asparagus. You may pick any that are finger-size, but stop after a month or six weeks. You can either snap or cut off the spears for harvest, just be careful not to harm new shoots.
**Spears are the tastiest and most tender when the scales are flat against the stalk and have not yet begun to open.
**Always leave a few spears on the plant to allow the plant to recover and gain strength for next year.
**You usually harvest from late April until approx. June 21.
**Asparagus does not keep its flavor long after cutting, but it freezes well.
Do YOU have an Asparagus patch in your garden?
**If so, how is it going for you? How long have you been harvesting?
**If not, do you plan on growing them this year? Why or why not?